Full text: Zeitungsausschnitte über Werke von Herman Grimm: Goethe

© Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg, Best. 340 Grimm Nr. Z 38 
The Life and Times of Goethe. By Herman Grimm. 
Translated by Sarah Willand Adams. 
The charm of this book will be most fully felt by 
those who thirty years ago shared in the great intel 
lectual and aesthetic revival caused by the introduc 
tion of the study of German literature. Then Goethe 
illumined the heavens and the earth, and all science, 
religion, philosophy, and art “were the colors of his 
It has seemed an almost inexplicable phenomenon 
that the books then the daily companions of life should 
have remained for days or months unopened, during 
all the crowded years which have followed; and yet 
the spirit and the wisdom of this great master went 
with us through them all, and now the new inter 
preter comes to bring us to his feet again, and he rec 
ognizes the necessity of the seeming departure. 
“We live in a new era, which must create anew its 
own image of him: it overthrows the old one, but 
does not touch him. To-day, more than ever, it is 
important that our attention should be turned to him; 
but another stand-point must be accepted.” 
If this be true,—and many indications show that it is 
as true of New England thought and culture as of 
German,—we must be profoundly grateful to Professor 
Grimm for having given us these lectures, which pre 
sent to us not the old picture of Goethe cracked and 
faded by time, but a new and vivid portrait as he 
looks to the young German of to-day, who under 
stands his life and work by the new light of German 
freedom and unity. 
The book is dedicated by the translator to Ralph 
Waldo Emerson; and most fitly is this done, since the 
writer acknowledges his large debt to one whom he 
styles “the greatest of living authors,” and since we 
find the fruit of Emerson’s influence in his own work. 
How like Emerson are many passages, in his descrip 
tion of Goethe’s personal power ! Speaking of private 
letters from Weimar in Goethe’s time, he says: “If the 
people have nothing else to say, they announce at 
least whether Goethe is at home or on a journey; 
mentioning the last as an abnormal circumstance, as 
if they had a right to his presence among them. . . . 
Every one who comes in contact with him by the 
instant surrender of himself makes the highest de 
mands upon Goethe, and he fulfils them all.” 
It is impossible now to give an analysis of Professor 
Grimm’s work. Enough to say that it is a rare intel 
lectual delight to come again into Goethe’s atmos 
phere, introduced by one of such rare poetic imagina 
tion and critical insight. 
But we also owe a great debt to the translator, who 
by her patient labor and by her loving perception 
has made of her translation a work as fresh and beau 
tiful as an original. Herself deeply imbued with that 
early reverence for Goethe, and with rare literary cult 
ure which eminently fitted her for her welcome task, 
she has taken us with her to listen to the words of the 
Professor. We are not conscious that we are not bear 
ing his own words, and yet not a trace of the German 
idiom mars her pure and fluent English. It reminds 
one of the translation by Bettina Brentano of her own 
letters into English, when her intense search for the 
exactly fitting word banished sleep from her pillow. 
We are proud that an American woman abroad has 
done herself such honor and her country such service, 
and we trust that this will not be the last work of her 
pen. The reader will find in this book a rich mine of 
instruction and enjoyment, and the expressed satis 
faction of the author will assure him that he. has the 
advantage of getting his thought as truly as he could 
in the original. e. d. c.

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